Monroe County Commissioner Eddie Martinez walked out of the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on Wednesday evening, posting a $1,500 bond following a domestic battery allegation that led to his arrest the day before.
According to police reports, a 911 call by Martinez’s daughter on Nov. 30 drew officers that evening to a Hialeah home. There, Martinez allegedly threw drawers and a pill bottle at his wife.
Per reports, the daughter who phoned in the incident from a bathroom said her dad was getting violent and throwing things. Reports also state that police were told by daughters that he tends to get violent when he’s off his medication.
A call and text to Martinez by Keys Weekly on Thursday went unreturned. While walking out of the jail Wednesday evening, Martinez denied the allegations, which include throwing a pill bottle at his wife, to Local 10’s Christian De La Rosa. He also said he won’t be stepping down as commissioner representing Monroe County’s District 3, which covers the western part of Key West. The board of county commissioners will next convene for a meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo.
The latest developments surrounding Martinez drew a response from his colleagues on the county commission, including Commissioner Holly Raschein, who said she’s saddened and deeply troubled by the recent events.
“As a woman, mother and former legislator who sponsored and passed legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, I take these criminal charges very seriously,” she said in a statement. “I believe that those that do so forfeit their right to the public trust. There is no place for this in Hialeah — or Monroe County.”
Monroe County Mayor David Rice said the alleged incident is “quite serious and far beyond the boundaries of behavior expected of public officials.” While the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners doesn’t have the legal authority to determine whether any commissioner continues to serve, Rice said he’s sure the governor’s office will be looking into the issue and taking appropriate action.
“I’m truly dismayed at these issues occurring so close to home and yet feel that the incident and Commissioner Martinez deserve the due process that is guaranteed in the law to determine his guilt or not. We’ll stand by respectfully for that process to occur,” he said. “I know this is a difficult time for all of us, the commissioner and his family, and simply hope he will make the right decisions.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Office is aware of Martinez’s arrest. Press Secretary Christina Pushaw told Keys Weekly the legal team is reviewing the available information.
“Per Florida law and our constitution, the governor does have the authority to suspend elected officials who are charged with crimes. This is not automatic or immediate. The governor can use his discretion and make that decision after reviewing the facts of the case,” Pushaw said.
Commissioner Craig Cates said he feels for the Martinez family. He too acknowledged that a personal matter such as this would involve the governor in terms of removal from office.
“But I do feel badly for him and I hope he makes the right decisions,” Cates said.
Commissioner Michelle Coldiron said the news surrounding Martinez is saddening.
“My work with the guardian ad litem program has given me real insight into just how prevalent and heartbreaking the consequences of substance abuse and domestic violence can be in our county and can strike any family at any time regardless of who they are. My wish is for any person and family touched by substance abuse and or domestic violence to receive the help they need and prioritize family healing first,” she said in a statement.
The latest occurrence isn’t the first time police were called to a domestic incident involving Martinez. On Jan. 12, Key West Police responded to a 1009 Simonton St. apartment for a family dispute between step-daughter Natalie Guerra, 24, and Martinez.
Martinez told officers he had gotten into an argument with his stepdaughter, who had driven down from her home in Homestead to pick up her younger sisters. Guerra told police her younger sisters had called her because their parents had been fighting for two days and the two younger girls wanted Guerra to come get them, reports state.
Guerra told police Eddie Martinez was “kicking her mother, Maria Martinez, out,” and she had driven down with her fiance to collect her mother and two sisters. But when she arrived, Eddie and Maria Martinez were reportedly getting along better, and Eddie Martinez was refusing to let Guerra take her sisters to Homestead, reports state. That’s when the arguing and a physical altercation ensued.
Guerra’s fiance then reportedly “bear-hugged” Eddie Martinez from behind, pinning his arms down. Guerra said she intervened to separate her stepfather and her fiance by “smacking them away,” reports state. No charges were filed by Martinez against his stepdaughter, but she was still arrested on misdemeanor battery charges.
Martinez was elected county commissioner following an election victory over incumbent Democrat Heather Carruthers in November 2020. Carruthers later filed a legal challenge that claims Martinez, who’s a land surveyor with an office in Key West, did not live in District 3 at the time he was elected. That matter is still ongoing.
The Monroe County Commissioners’ salary is set by the state constitution. Each commissioner gets $50,348 per year. They also each get the same medical and vision benefits as a county employee, who are given the choice of packages with a high or low rate. Rice’s benefits cost $9,866 per year; Martinez and Cates, $9,554; Coldiron, $8,670; and Raschein, $0. The commissioners are also entitled to Florida Retirement System benefits.
— Key West Weekly Editor Mandy Miles and Keys Weekly Senior Staff Writer Charlotte Twine contributed to this report.